More than a foot of snow in the Midwest and 2 feet in the Rockies
By Aya Elamroussi and Holly Yan, CNN
A triple whammy of sleet, snow and ice brings misery to millions of people across the United States – with many stuck in the massive winter storm without power.
More than 100 million people in 25 states stretching from Mexico’s borders to Canada’s borders were under winter weather alert Thursday, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.
The storm has already produced 2 feet of snow in parts of the Rockies and between 12 and 15 inches of snow in several Midwestern states. Thursday afternoon saw snow falling from the southwest to New England, with additional snow expected on Friday.
Meanwhile, an ice storm creates dangerous conditions from Arkansas to Ohio. More than half an inch of ice accumulation could bring down trees and power lines, threatening access to electricity for large areas.
Many are already suffering from this consequence. By 2 p.m. ET, there were at least 263,000 customers without power across a wide swath of the United States, according to Poweroutage.us.
The “significant winter storm is expected to affect much of the central and northeastern United States through Friday evening,” the National Weather Service‘s weather prediction center said.
More than 20 inches of snow had already accumulated in the Colorado Springs area, the weather service said. Parts of Illinois and Indiana are buried under a foot of snow.
In Texas, the storm will test the state’s power grid, which suffered catastrophic outages last February. The state said 246 people died – most of hypothermia – after a snow and ice storm left thousands of Texans without power for weeks.
Leaders of the state’s power grid — Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT — said Wednesday they believe they are prepared to handle high demands during the storm, but also warned there could be local outages. due to ice on wires or fallen tree branches.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a briefing Thursday that the state’s power grid has “a lot of power available right now,” calling the weather “one of the most significant icing events we’ve seen.” have had in the state of Texas for at least several years”. decades.”
“The power grid is working very well right now,” he said. “At projected peak demand, there should be about 10,000 megawatts of additional electrical capacity. To put that into context, that’s about enough additional energy to power about 2 million homes.
For Texans who have already lost power — about 47,000 were without it Thursday afternoon — Abbott said the most likely cause was high winds affecting lines or freezing conditions.
More than 10,000 linemen are already working to fix power lines that aren’t working, the governor said, with another 2,000 linemen coming in from other states.
Tornado concerns in the South
Rain was falling in the South, where there were flood warnings or watches in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
There were also tornado watches in 24 counties in Alabama and 17 in Mississippi.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, a few tornadoes, a few of which could be intense, and damaging storm wind gusts up to 70 mph are possible.
The watch includes 3 million people, including residents of Gulfport, Mississippi, and the cities of Mobile, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
What “multiple winter weather cycles” will look like
As the storm system pushes further east, forecasters say, it will offer a chilling mix of hazards.
“The system will be extended with multiple winter weather cycles through Friday for parts of the central United States before moving inland from the northeast,” the weather service said Wednesday.
CNN meteorologists said these cities will experience the worst weather effects:
- Dallas: Snow and sleet will end Friday afternoon, but temperatures will remain below freezing through Saturday morning. The Dallas Independent School District will be closed Thursday and Friday, officials said.
- Houston: Meanwhile, a wintry mix and freezing rain is possible for Houston Thursday night as temperatures drop into the upper 20s.
- St. Louis: The city has seen 3 to 6 inches of snow so far, with another 2 to 4 inches expected Thursday afternoon.
- Memphis, Tennessee: Freezing rain will continue through Thursday evening, mixing with ice pellets and snow. More than half an inch of ice could make travel difficult or impossible, as well as lead to downed trees and power lines.
- Louisville, Kentucky: Up to a half inch of ice is expected to form. Also, about 1 inch of sleet and snow – each – should fall. Peak times for a mix of freezing rain, snow and ice pellets are 7 a.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday.
- Little Rock, Arkansas: Freezing rain, ice pellets and snow continue Thursday afternoon, before easing into the evening. Two to three inches of snow accumulation is expected, along with 0.10 inches of ice.
- Chicago: The Windy City has seen about 5 inches of snow so far – and could see up to an inch more before it subsides Thursday afternoon.
- Indianapolis, Indiana: Between 4 and 6 inches of snow is expected as snow continues through the afternoon. It will fade Thursday evening.
- Buffalo, New York: The area could be buried in 8 to 12 inches of snow, which is expected to peak Thursday afternoon and into the evening.
The journey is already miserable
Perilous travel conditions have caused accidents and road closures. In Illinois, authorities closed parts of several highways after numerous shipwrecks.
“The combination of snow volumes, high winds and freezing temperatures make travel near impossible in some areas of the state with several highways closed following vehicle and tractor-trailer stabbing accidents,” said Kevin Sur, spokesperson for Illinois Emergency. Management agency.
In Springfield, a train hit a car that got stuck on the tracks due to snow on Wednesday night. The driver – the only person in the car – was able to get out in time, Springfield police said. No injuries were reported.
Amtrak canceled several train routes Thursday to and from Chicago, including Cardinal Train 51 to New York. The route between St. Louis and Kansas City is also canceled, Amtrak said.
In Oklahoma, travel to most areas of the state “is strongly discouraged,” the state Department of Transportation said in a news release. Only two counties in the state were unaffected Thursday morning, and portions of several freeways, including I-40 and I-35, were closed.
The Missouri Department of Transportation also warned drivers that many roads across the state were covered in snow.
“Conditions remain hazardous…Roads across the district are still covered with more snow expected in the morning,” the MoDOT Central District said. tweeted.
The gigantic storm also hampered air travel on Thursday, which is expected to be one of the 10 worst days for air travel in the past year.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport closed early Thursday due to ice and snow, the Federal Aviation Authority said. It reopened a few hours later.
Correction: A previous version of this story exaggerated the new February 2 snowfall record for Oklahoma City. The new record is 3 inches.
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CNN’s Judson Jones, Paul P. Murphy, Joe Sutton, Amanda Musa, Jenn Selva, Pete Muntean, Greg Wallace, Rosa Flores and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.